ParkLife Sport analyse Michael Duff’s first month in charge of the Robins and also look ahead to his next five games.
After 12 games played, the Gloucestershire-based side are just a point off the relegation zone with Cambridge and Northampton on their tail. Duff was appointed near the beginning of September after Gary Johnson was shown the door following a 1-1 draw to Macclesfield Town.
The ex-Burnley and Cheltenham Town defender opened his career into senior football management with a home game against Crewe. The 40-year-old rallied his new side and drew 0-0 with the relegation rivals. However, despite that solid start, Duff is yet to take away all three points from any of his opening five fixtures.
Three defeats against 2nd placed Exeter City, high-flying Lincoln who sit at the top of the table and recently relegated MK Dons are all forgivable. Although, Duff will be looking to grab the first win of his reign soon in order to relieve some of the pressure off of his shoulders.
The late drama against Morecambe at home which gained the Robins a point has staved off the threat of the drop zone for now. A second trip of the season to the New Lawn is what’s next on the new Boss’ schedule and he’ll be hoping for a major improvement on the performance in their first. A 4-0 loss to any team’s closest rivals is a real gut-wrencher for the fans and so Duff’s first ever ‘El Glosico’ is huge for multiple reasons.
Following the derby, Cheltenham face up against Oldham away, a more winnable game against a side who’ve had a mixed bag of results thus far. They then have three back-to-back opportunities to improve their home form, which currently is the worst in the whole of League Two.
A tough test against a resolute Stevenage side, a Checkatrade Trophy fixture against Arsenal Under-21s and a final home game against Mansfield Town to cap off Duff’s second month in charge. The next five games could see the Robins start to creep up the table with a couple of more winnable games in store.
Right now the deep and underlying problems for Cheltenham are that they aren’t scoring enough goals. They’ve only scored nine so far this season and that’s the joint worst goal-scoring record in the league alongside Grimsby and Northampton.
New signing Luke Varney grabbed a brace against Morecambe including a 96th minute equaliser which shows his potential in front of goal. However, they’ll need him to become a more consistent and reliable source of goals until they can improve their attacking quality with some signings in January.
Park Life Sport’s Predictions:
Forest Green 1-1 Cheltenham Town
Oldham 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham Town 0-2 Stevenage
Cheltenham Town 1-4 Arsenal U21s
Cheltenham Town 2-1 Mansfield Town